Morgan's Canon, Garner's phonograph, and the evolutionary origins of language and reason

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Discusses the research of Richard Lynch Garner on primate speech, including his use of the phonograph to record primate vocalizations in the 1890s. Radick relates Garner's research to the theory of animal behavior known as "Morgan's canon," advanced by British geologist Conwy Lloyd Morgan, building on the work of Friedrich Max Müller, which influenced the new field of comparative psychology. Radick discusses Garner's expedition to the Congo in the 1890s to record and study primate vocalizations and the reception of his work by the scientific community.


  • Garner, Richard Lynch
  • Morgan, Conwy Lloyd 1852-1936
  • Müller, Friedrich Max


Smithsonian History Bibliography


Documentation of Garner's research on primate communications is located in both Smithsonian Institution Archives and the National Anthropological Archives.

Contained within

British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 33 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Scientific expeditions
  • Primates
  • Language and languages
  • Congo
  • Psychology, Comparative



Physical description

Number of pages: 21; Page numbers: 3-23

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